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Gold silverware, more properly gold flatware, is flatware which includes gold in its construction. Pure gold silverware is extremely unusual, because gold is such a soft metal that it will be easily damaged in routine use. More commonly, the flatware is gold plated or accented with gold. Department stores and companies which manufacture flatware often carry several versions of gold flatware, which can be customized with monograms and crests as desired.
Flatware is a family of utensils which are used for eating and serving food. Knives, forks, and spoons are probably the most familiar examples of flatware, along with an array of specialized serving utensils ranging from asparagus tongs to cake knives. Many people refer to flatware as “silverware,” referencing the fact that silver is a very traditional material for flatware. “Gold silverware” is usually an oxymoron, except in cases where the flatware is made from silver and plated or accented in gold. Most gold flatware, however, has a stainless steel base.
Historically, pure gold was used to make flatware and dishes for high ranking members of society. Examples of gold flatware have been uncovered at several archaeological sites, and they can be seen on display in museums. This flatware must have been challenging to use, because gold is notorious for its softness and malleability. Handles and tines made from pure gold would easily bend, and the flatware would also develop pits and chips as people used it.
Modern gold silverware is made by casting a base in a metal like stainless steel, and then plating it. In the simplest form, gold flatware is simply coated in a solid layer of gold, although the blades of knives may be left unplated because they tend to chip. In other instances, gold plating may only be applied to certain parts of the flatware, with the gold acting as an accent. Raised patterns may be brought out in gold, or gold may be used to create bold stripes and other decorative features.
Gold flatware needs special care. It cannot be run through the dishwasher, as the gold may pit. Ideally, gold flatware should be washed by hand with a soft dishcloth and a very mild soap, and dried on a soft, absorbent cloth before being replaced for storage in the case it came in or in a special padded flatware case or drawer. Gold should not tarnish. If the flatware does become filmy, the film can be gently buffed away with a soft cloth.
I've heard before that there is quite a lot of gold in the sewerage systems of major cities. Something like four pounds of gold for every tonne of sewerage was found in Japan.
That's a better rate than they find in mines.
And now I wonder if it is coming from gold plated flatware sets. After all, if they develop chips and other damage really quickly, all that gold must be going somewhere...
@croydon - It really is annoying, when you consider how many other things the gold could be used for.
Gold jewelry, while it doesn't necessarily have a purpose, can be quite lovely.
And gold is sometimes used for industrial reasons. It doesn't tarnish at all, which makes it a good coating for other metals.
But gold is dug out of the ground in mines that can destroy the area around them with pollution and leave big ugly scars on the earth.
It seems like a massive waste if the gold is simply going to coat someone's silverware sets.
Particularly if it quickly gets damaged and has to be constantly fixed.
This is an example of how ridiculous people can be when it comes to fashion.
There is no purpose to having gold in your flatware sets and in fact it makes them far less practical. But, it looks like people used to make them entirely out of gold and they still do it. Even if it was just a matter of color, something more appropriate could be found.
But, people just want to have it because it is a sign of how wealthy they are, rather than because it serves any other purpose.
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